Friday, May 29, 2009

Same wet spot - new and improved box

I created a special administrative page to list all of the varied responses included in the "first aid" section for letterboxes. The feature gets abused a lot, but I didn't really have an easy, systematic way to get rid of all of the fluff showing up in it. So I finally made a special page that displays to me every single box with a first aid request, and more specifically, what the request is.

I'd say of all the boxes listed, about half of them have used the first aid box incorrectly. The first aid option is meant to request help from finders of your box. Perhaps a full logbook needs to be replaced, or a cracked container needs to be replaced. Or maybe a stamp is missing and you hope someone can replace it for you.

It's a request--a call for help. It's not supposed to be used to write your clues, it's not supposed to be used to tell others that the box has moved or that the box is missing. It's not to warn that there is poison ivy in the area or that people should carry sunscreen or bug spray.

My favorite 'first aid' comment so far is the one in this title: "Same wet spot - new and improved box!" It sounds so.... well.... Taken out of context, it's really quite hilarious. But, again, if that's the kind of message you are leaving for first aid requests, it's being misused.

Here are some other examples of how NOT to use the first aid:

* bring your swimming and snorkel gear!
* Bring Binoculars -- Leave the Dogs at Home!
* May have been destroyed in a wild fire - unsure of it's status. [Note: Change the status of the box to unknown.]
* missing [Note: Change the status of the box to unavailable]
* Box has been replaced. See updated clue.
* reported possibly missing 5/2007
* construction at the zoo might have eliminated this box
* Several reports of this box trying to swim to Europe...
* the recent torrential rains may have washed this letterbox down slope--wonder if it's in the neighboring detritus? [Note: This is probably better mentioned in the clues itself.]
* Mosquito repellant
* Probably washed away in recent rains
* Currently missing from the gathering. It's not a cootie.
* Ok
* watch out for blackberry brambles.
* Gone baby gone
* theres a new clue at !
* Box found in nearby garbage can. Will replant soon.
* HELP ME!!!! [Note: Okay, technically it is asking for help, but since it fails to describe what help is needed, it's not very useful.]
* none
* Stamp and logbook replaced
* Caution-Box fills with water. Please carefully rebag
* Beginning 01/05/08- this park will be closed on Sundays
* Reported missing after first finders. I have yet to verify. [Note: That's called an unknown status]
* Boxes to be replaced soon.
* Box pulled for the winter! Come back in the spring! Thanks! [Note: Change the status of the box, or at least mark it using the new seasonal attribute.]
* may be on the ground, at the base of the tree, or fell into the woods.
* Heard that the bench might be gone! :( [Note: This kind of stuff should be in the clue!]
* I've moved from the area.... so as time goes by this box might need maintnence..... thanks
* I've been told the area around this box is under construction and may not be available at this time.....

Here are real examples of the proper use of the first aid option:

* Needs rescue from new construction in area [Note: This is slightly different than the last example of what not to do. Here, the person is asking for help to rescue their box. In the example of what not to do, the person is telling you that the box may or may not be unavailable--therefore, the status is unknown. The person doing the finding is not being asked to help in any way.]
* Needs outside of box marked. Adoption requests welcome! [Note: The first part of this is okay. Adoption requests are best left directly in the clue itself.]
* A new logbook might be nice, maybe someone could help.
* I need a sandwich sized box RIGHT AWAY!
* Logbooks Full! [Note: I'm assuming, of course, that the person is requesting to have the logbooks replaced.]
* logbook is wet, so if you can replace it with a small, dry book, it would be much appreciated. [Note: Basically the same thing, but better worded. =)]
* Clues need to be verified!
* Stamp missing - if willing to help replace it, please email me

In related news..... As I find first aid comments about "box missing" or "possibly missing," I've been changing the status of the boxes to reflect the comments, then removing the comments. It's always better to change the status so people can better sort through active boxes from missing ones.

I've now gone through all of the first aid comments on boxes marked as active, unknown, or unavailable and removed the ones that were being misused. I still need to go through the retired boxes, but that's probably not nearly as critical since most of you aren't searching for retired boxes anyhow. But I need lunch, so the retired boxes will wait until later today!


Liz Henderson (Hendel D'bu) said...

"Gone, baby, gone!" Hahaha!

Ryan, you are right...I'm off to see if I've abused the First Aid feature. :-)

Anonymous said...

Reports have filtered back to me:
My box succumbed to entropy.
The Rubber Maid has got a crack,
There's water in the zip-lock sack.
Mold's accreted to the stamp.
The log book's smeared and very damp.
So please assist me if you will
Make repairs for me until
The Grinch and Grumpy can replace
The book and stamp and plastic case.


Teresa said...

I had no idea that's what the First Aid field was for! P.S. For some reason I wasn't able to post a comment here with FireFox tonight - the Word Verificatio picture wouldn't show.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ryan, you are always going beyond the price of admission for us.

The Quackers

Anonymous said...

My favorite:

CookeCutter said...

I've seen the aftermath of lawnmower murder-it ain't pretty! Bits of duct tape and plastic, a few scraps of paper. A letterbox had been wedged between branches of a small tree. (Apparently not wedged very well)

Anonymous said...

I'm hoping and praying that others will help with my first 2 out of my area letterbox plants when and if they need first aid. I always try to lend first aid, requested or not, when the need exists. I've learned which letterboxers maintain their letterboxes. Certain letterboxers never seem to revisit their plants to do maintenance.